Sky is the UK's foremost pay TV service and was the world's first satellite broadcasting business when it was launched by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation in 1989. After a very shaky start, British Sky Broadcasting (or BSkyB) eventually established itself as one of the country's most profitable broadcasters, buying up rights to many of the UK's biggest sporting events. Almost a decade after its launch the service became the UK's first digital broadcaster, and now delivers more than 500 audio and video channels direct to around a third of all UK households. It has also diversified into broadband, telecoms and even (briefly) a music download service. Following the break-up of News Corporation in 2013, Sky's largest shareholder became 21st Century Fox with a 39% stake. In 2014, the company acquired control of Fox's separate Sky-branded satellite broadcast subsidiaries in Italy and Germany to create a single Sky Europe entity. Two years later, Fox issued a new offer to take full control of the enlarged Sky business. However, intense opposition to the Murdoch empire in political and media circles made it appear increasingly unlikely that regulatory approval would be forthcoming. The Murdochs finally accepted defeat in 2017, announcing a shock decision to sell the bulk of 21st Century Fox, including Sky, to Disney. A rival offer subsequently materialised from Comcast, and the three companies began jockeying for control of the business. Comcast was ultimately successful, taking ownership of Sky - but not the other Fox assets - with a knock-out bid of £30.6bn. As of Dec 2020, Sky had a total of 23.9m retail customers across Europe, just over half of them in the UK & Ireland. Around another 3.5m customers, mainly in the UK, receive selected channels through cable partners. The group has rolled out its own OTT streaming service in several markets under the Now TV banner, and it also offers Sky Mobile phone services in the UK. Sports in general - football in particular, and now also F1 Grand Prix racing - remain a key part of its subscriber offer, and it has exclusive broadcast rights to an extensive collection of matches and events. It also has first rights to all HBO and other WarnerMedia content in Europe. Despite the rise in home viewing during Covid-impacted 2020, Sky's divisional revenues slipped 3% to $18.6bn, while EBITDA slumped by more than a third to $2.0bn. DTC subscription fees accounted for almost 82% of revenues, with just $2.0bn from advertising, and the remaining $1.4bn from content licensing on cable. Long-serving leader Jeremy Darroch passed on the role of CEO at the beginning of 2021 to former Virgin Media executive Dana Strong, but remains executive chairman.
Capsule checked 11th June 2021
Adbrands Account Assignments tracks account management for the world's leading brands and companies, including details of which advertising agency handles which accounts in which countries for major markets
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Which agencies handle advertising for Sky? Find out more from the Account Assignments database.
Who are the main marketing decisionmakers at Sky? Find out more from Adbrands Account Assignments
Who are the competitors of Sky? In the UK, Virgin Media and BT are Sky's main traditional competitors in pay TV and broadband services, as well as TalkTalk. A new and even more intense threat has arisen from streaming services Netflix and Amazon. In terms of advertising revenue, Sky competes with commercial broadcasters ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. In Germany and Italy, Sky competes with telecoms operators with broadband TV offers, including Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and TIM See Media Sector for other companies
Historical profile information for Sky
Adbrands Daily Update 7th Oct 2021: Sky is getting into the consumer electronics business (and out of satellite broadcasting) with the launch of its own TV, branded as Sky Glass. Available in five large-screen sizes, the new device eliminates the need for a satellite dish and a console box. Instead it will operate from a broadband or ethernet connection, with all its hardware and software built-in to the TV itself, and all Sky services and third-party apps pre-loaded. The device goes on sale in the UK later this month and elsewhere next year.
Adbrands Daily Update 28th Nov 2019: "A Holiday Reunion". One of the advantages for UK satellite broadcaster Sky of being owned by a colossus like US cable and entertainment giant Comcast is that you get to use your sister companies' hand-me-down Christmas ads. You also get to borrow your parent group's character licenses too, and all presumably at lower than market prices. Which would explain the appearance of a certain cuddly space alien, courtesy of Universal Studios, in a cutdown version of the extravagant seasonal special for US cable service Xfinity. All parts of the Comcast family. Goodby Silverstein's ad is a bit heavy on the cute, but seriously, who wouldn't love to see ET and Elliot being reunited for the first time in 40 years? And, yes, that really is Elliot actor Henry Thomas all grown up.
Adbrands Daily Update 8th Oct 2019: "What's Your TV Got For You Tonight?". Engine's new campaign for Now - the contract-free service from satellite broadcaster Sky - really gets to the heart (and other locations) of the TV choice dilemma. It's surprising how few mediaowners are prepared to admit this fact, even about their rivals. There are hundreds of channels available to most viewers these days and thousands of programme choices but you can still never find anything worth watching. That's one of the major factors for the rise of OTT streaming services over traditional cable. The latter's content is 95% rubbish or re-runs, but you're still paying for it month in, month out. Tell it how it is, Now! Great too to see the under-used talent of Robert Webb back on our screens again. Come back, 'Peep Show', we need you more than ever!
Adbrands Social Media 15th Apr 2019: "Molly". Mother launched its first campaign for satellite broadcaster Sky, now a division of Comcast. It's less of a change of strategy than an evolution, with Idris Elba still on-board as the ambassador for the enhanced Sky Q multi-room multi-channel service. But Mother has opened up the campaign style a little more to ground it more firmly in customers' homes, rather than simply Idris's own pad. "All too often, when a new agency comes on board, the impetus is to throw everything out and start afresh," says Mother partner Katie Mackay-Sinclair. "There was a lot that was working well for Sky; so the real opportunity was to augment what was already working by creating a new, richer brand world and a more emotional, insightful dimension to the campaign."
Adbrands Social Media 4th Mar 2019: "F1 2019 Season Launch". Interesting to read Lewis Hamilton's comments over the weekend about the collapsing TV audience for Formula 1 racing. Almost 9m UK viewers watched Hamilton claim his first F1 championship in 2008. Fewer than 2m watched his latest victory in Mexico last season. "I didn't know those numbers," he told an interviewer. "That sounds terrible from a business point of view. That's definitely not cool. I remember growing up and turning on BBC and watching the Grand Prix, it was awesome." The reason, of course, is Sky, which has acquired exclusive live rights for all apart from the British Grand Prix, and tucked them behind a £10-per-month pay-wall. That's even bigger money for the F1 teams and organisation, of course, but Lewis Hamilton already has more cash than he knows what to do with. He's voiced a valid concern about the long-term effects of restricting the audience. This isn't football after all, with a much bigger, broader following. Still, here's the handsome ad produced by Sky's inhouse creative team to launch the 2019 season, a track through the ages of Formula 1. Nice to hear the old 'Grand Prix' TV theme again - Fleetwood Mac's 'The Chain' of course - still in business after all these years.
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